Well friends- we are finally out of Thailand. Did anyone else feel like we were there forever or just me? I can’t think of a good alliteration for my Vietnam posts so they will just have boring titles (unless you can think of one- then please tell me).
Today I am taking you along on our two day, one night junk boat tour of Halong Bay.
One of the only things I had booked before we left Australia was this tour. Once I saw pictures of the junk boats cruising through the gorgeous green waters of Halong Bay I knew that we had to stay on one. After extensive research (j/k I just picked #1 on Trip Advisor) I booked us for a 2 day 1 night tour through Indochina Junk. This included airport pickup, hotel in Hanoi (Hanoi Pearl Hotel) , transport to Halong Bay, meals on the boat and one night stay in their luxurious cabins on board. We were very impressed with the customer service and overall quality of our tour and would recommend them to anyone!
Ok, back to our trip- after a good night’s rest in our lovely hotel we were picked up bright and early and taken to the harbor. The ride was long but there was wifi in the van and we had a pit stop along the way. The entire drive it was raining and it didn’t seem to be letting up. Once we reached the harbor it was straight up monsooning. We were not too excited about our days adventures of kayaking and laying out on a beach.
Despite the bad weather, we boarded our boat (Dragon’s Pearl) with the 12 others that were staying on board. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and short information session before setting sail through the cloudy seas.
We cruised through Bai Tu Long Bay and stopped at an island to explore some caves. They were actually humongous and multiple families used to live in them. It was pretty interesting walking around imagining the lives that used to be lived in there.
When we stepped out of the caves, it had miraculously stopped raining. It wasn’t exactly sunny but after the intense showers we had experienced all day we were pretty thrilled.
We headed down to the private beach to hang out and kayak. Our guide had explained to us that there is quite a bit of rubbish in the bay because the villagers had never been educated on properly disposing their garbage. For years and years (and many more years) they had always dumped their garbage straight into the water without knowing any difference. Once the bay became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 initiatives were started to help educate and provide resources to the locals in order to clean up the bay. Our tour group Indochina Junk began the “For a Green Halong Bay” program which helps by collecting garbage from the various fishing villages and cleaning up the trash already in the water.
Obviously garbage floating in the water is not what you expect to see on a scenic cruise, but knowing the history behind the problem and what is being done to fix it makes it a lot easier to forgive.
As we kayaked through the water, Travis made sure to scoop up any trash we saw to help out with the initiative. Unfortunately we only got a few shots on the go pro before the battery died, but kayaking through the green waters and all the jutting isles was pretty amazing.
After kayaking and swimming, we headed back to the boat to clean up and enjoy a beverage on the deck.
We enjoyed the sunset before heading inside to enjoy a delicious multiple course meal. Seriously, the meals on the boat were some of the best we had on our trip.
The forecast for the next day was not looking any better, so imagine our surprise when we woke up to this view from our cabin…
Blue skies and sunshine. We got to enjoy breakfast and coffee on the deck as we all expressed our enthusiasm for the perfect weather.
Next up we headed to a small floating village to check out the local way of life and also hop into a smaller boat with a local guide. This village was much smaller than the one we visited in Thailand and did not have any of the hallmarks of a tourist attraction. No restaurants, no souvenir stalls just people, houses and a fishing boats.
And a tiny one room school. The older kids go to the mainland so this was only for the younger primary students.
Our local guides provided us with traditional Vietnamese hats. Mine didn’t fit over my massive bun but Travis wore it well.
I loved hearing about life in these small, traditional fishing villages. Our tour guide was full of insights and funny stories including one about a wedding he attended on the floating village we visited.
Our guide was too cute and kept pointing out things for me to photograph and at one point reached out for our camera to take a picture of Travis and I.
Vietnamese people are my favorite. Our last stop was an oyster pearl farm before we headed back to the Dragon Pearl.
Our remaining time on the junk boat was spent enjoying the sunshine up here.
Even with our rough start due to the weather (once again our fault for booking during monsoon season) the sunshine the next day more than made up for it and we had an unforgettable trip.